‘Afraid for my life,’ shooting suspect says
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE ” Charles Gross shot his .44 Magnum four times at the driver of a pickup truck in self-defense, the defendant testified Monday during his trial.
Gross, 57, would react the same way he did on the evening of Oct. 7, 2005 if he were put in that situation again, he said.
“That’s how much fear I had. I was afraid for my life,” said Gross, who was soft spoken and at times smiled.
Gross saw Eliseo Madrid reach for something between the front seats of a pickup truck as the tinted passenger-side window was being rolled up, Gross said.
Gross walked back toward his campfire and saw the truck moving toward him so he fired at Eliseo Madrid, he said.
The first shot that Gross fired hit Maria Madrid’s head and killed her, as she, her husband, Eliseo Madrid, and then-14-year-old Joel Madrid were leaving a Deep Creek campsite on Coffee Pot Road north of Dotsero, investigators have said.
“It’s not a good feeling taking someone’s life,” he said. “I’ve had nightmares, I’ve lost a lot of sleep,” Gross said.
Gross was raised in St. Johns, Mich., and he arrived in Colorado in January 1980, he said. Work was scarce in Denver, where he first lived, so he moved to the Vail Valley. His first job was at a lodge in Avon, he said.
Gross liked to fish, hunt and hike and always carried his gun with him when he was outdoors because “I’ve had a couple run-ins with mountain lions and a bear,” he said.
Coming back from a hike armed with his gun that dark October evening, Gross approached the Gypsum family’s Toyota pickup and asked Eliseo Madrid twice to pick up the family’s trash, Gross said.
Gross denied cursing at Eliseo Madrid when he asked them to pick up their trash the first time, he said.
“I don’t believe I used that word at first, but maybe the second time,” Gross said.
The second time, Gross was “slightly agitated,” he said during cross-examination.
Gross called Eliseo Madrid “malicious” and added that Eliseo Madrid showed “hostile intent” during their interactions about the trash, he said.
Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert called Gross’ reaction to fire his gun a “guess” during cross-examination.
Gross acknowledged that he did not see Eliseo Madrid with a gun or a knife and called his reaction an “educated guess.” Gross continued to fire the shots as Eliseo Madrid drove in reverse, Gross said.
But he did not intend to kill Maria Madrid, he said.
“My intent was the driver because he was the problem,” Gross said.
Hurlbert asked whether Gross could have run away from the truck.
“I wouldn’t have got very far,” Gross replied.
Because he was “upset and confused,” after the shooting Gross ditched his white camper truck and camped in the area until he was arrested Oct. 10, 2005, Gross said.
After his arrest, Gross told a sheriff’s deputy that “It was rage, pure rage,” Hurlbert said.
Gross said he did not say that.
“I said that rage was a terrible thing,” Gross said.
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or email@example.com.